MLANG, North Cotabato—If he can not have his way for a federal Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will still push for a federal Mindanao as constitutionalists and framers of the 1987 Constitution vowed to block his attempt for a total shift in the form of government through the amendment of the Charter.
Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the solar-powered irrigation project here on Friday, Duterte said he did not care if only Mindanao will adopt the federal system as it is the only way to address the conflict brought about by the Moro rebellion.
“It’s okay. I have no problem with that,” Duterte said, reacting to the statement of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., who vowed to stake his life to defend the Constitution.
Davide, who was among those who framed the 1987 Charter, was quoted in news reports as saying that a shift from a unitary to a federal system of government would be a “fatal experiment” that would further push the country into poverty.
He described the 1987 Constitution as the best in the world because it is “pro-God, procountry, propeople, propoor, prolife, profamily, promarriage, and proenvironment.”
But the President said changing the form of government from unitary to federal is the best thing that his leadership can do as “the unitary system has spelled so much trouble, especially in Mindanao.”
“I’d like to address them,” Duterte said. “Remember, I told you right at the beginning of the campaign that there will be no peace in Mindanao if you will not give (us) federalism?” he asked. “It will eventually tear our county apart.”
He then made an appeal to Moro rebel groups to support his cause.
“To the Muslims, why should we kill each other?” he asked. “We are already here in Mindanao. If they will not give it to us, let us just form our own government, the federal state of Mindanao,” he said. —JEOFFREY MAITEM